One of the great joys of travelling, I find, is to savour the local cuisine. Each region has its own specialities, but some go to outstanding lengths in order to celebrate their own regional uniqueness.
Cheap flights, an online travel site, has done a lot of research into some of the weirdest food festivals, so here are a few of their recommendations for those who wish to experience some truly freaky food festivals:
Roadkill Cook-Off, Marlinton, West Virginia, USA
Have you ever seen a dead animal lying on the side of the road and thought, “Wow, I’m hungry?” If you answered yes to this question, then the annual Roadkill Cook-Off in Marlinton might be the perfect food festival for you. Held on the last Saturday in September, this festival features dishes made from creatures who often find themselves flattened on the side of the road. Actual roadkill isn’t used in the dishes, but visitors will be sure to get an authentic roadkill experience with sample dishes such as tacos filled with armadillo, porcupine stew and marinated bear.
La Tomatina, Bruñol, Spain
Feel like taking some aggression out on strangers by throwing crushed tomatoes at them for an hour? Then head to Spain on the fourth Wednesday in August for the largest tomato food fight you will ever encounter.La Tomatina began around the end of World War II due to a rumoured local fight (the exact origins are unknown) and now draws around 45,000 people every year to toss nearly 113,400kg of tomatoes at one another.Participants are urged to wear goggles and gloves during the fight and, of course, clothing you don’t mind getting permanent tomato stains on.
Testicle Festival, Clinton, Montana, USA
If the name of this annual festival hasn’t made you squirm yet, then keep reading. This Montana event, held in August and known formally as the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, is named for one of the main dishes served – bull testicles. Undecided on your testicle of choice? Enjoy a sampler plate of the featured fare. Reports from last year’s festival found that participants consumed an average of 50kg of bull and bison testicles served deep fried, beer-battered or marinated. After attending this one-of-a-kind event you’re sure to be chanting its motto: “I had a ball at the Testicle Festival.”
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy
This food festival is only for the brave considering its participants often come out bruised, injured, or even hospitalised. The Battle of the Oranges, which lasts for three days and concludes on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent), involves teams of helmet-clad diehards hurling oranges at one another in a tradition that dates back to the 12th century. Festival organisers ship in approximately 400 tons of oranges annually for the event, and the aftermath requires a clean-up crew of around 100 members.
Waikiki Spam Jam, Waikiki, Hawaii, USA
A food staple in Hawaii, Spam® is that canned meat favourite that some (but not us!) refer to as “mystery meat.” This annual festival honouring the staple (held in April this year) is one of the most popular Hawaiian festivals combining the love of Spam with a family atmosphere and live music. Don’t fear if this one-of-a-kind meat isn’t your favourite; the festival features some of Honolulu’s best restaurants serving up the meat in a variety of ways for all to enjoy.
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Chinchilla, Australia
What does the so-called “Melon Capital of Australia” do with its excess Watermelon crop? Host a melon-filled festival, of course! Held once every two years in February in Chinchilla, this melon festival features activities like seed spitting, skiing with watermelon on your feet, melon tossing and more. Past festivals have made the Guinness Book of World Records for most watermelons broken on someone’s head in one minute: 47.